Snowflake’s Object Dependencies Governance Feature

Snowflake’s many native governance features allow you to easily know your data and protect it. Object tagging, classification, dynamic data masking, and row access policies are just a few of the native features provided by Snowflake. Snowflake recently released several new governance features, including a native governance feature known as Object Dependencies which allows you to identify dependencies among the Snowflake objects. The new Object Dependencies Snowflake feature can be used for impact analysis, data integrity assurance, and compliance purposes.

An object dependency is established when an existing object has to reference some metadata on its behalf or for at least one other object. A dependency can be triggered by an object’s name, its ID value, or both. One example of an object dependency referenced by name is a Snowflake table that backs a Snowflake view; the view would refer to the table by name. Another example is a Snowflake external stage where the ID is used as a reference to the external storage location.

It is important for data engineers to be aware of the object dependencies before making changes to Snowflake architecture. Before an engineer renames a table or drops a table, for example, he could notify users of downstream views which are dependent on those tables. In this way, the engineer could get the feedback necessary to assess the impact of the modifications before actually making changes.

Additionally, data analysts and data scientists can look upstream to see the lineage of a view. Being able to do so now, with Object Dependencies functionality, gives them the confidence that the view is backed by a trustworthy object source.

Also Read: Snowflake Announces Additional External Table Support

Finally, the new Object Dependencies feature is important for compliance officers and auditors who need to be able to trace data from a given object to its original data source to meet compliance and regulatory requirements.

Figure 1 OBJECT_DEPENDENCIES view exists in the Snowflake ACCOUNT_USAGE schema
Figure 1 OBJECT_DEPENDENCIES view exists in the Snowflake ACCOUNT_USAGE schema

Object Dependencies appear as a view in the Snowflake Account Usage schema (Figure 1). Within the Object Dependencies view, there exists 11 columns (Figure 2).

Figure 2 Object Dependencies view contains 11 columns
Figure 2 Object Dependencies view contains 11 columns

A Snowflake Account Administrator can query the Object Dependencies view. The output, as shown below in Figure 3, can include the object name path, the referencing object name and domain along with the referenced object name and domain.

Figure 3 Result of Querying the Object Dependencies View of the Account Usage Schema
Figure 3 Result of Querying the Object Dependencies View of the Account Usage Schema

Snowflake’s new Object Dependencies feature is one of the many comprehensive data governance native features provided by Snowflake. Snowflake makes it easy to efficiently know and protect your data. This is important because governing your data is critical to ensure that your data is secure, trustworthy, and compliant with regulatory requirements.
Be sure to check out our other blog posts and demos for more details about Snowflake’s native governance features.

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